Filipino-Canadian Amanda Joy (Devil’s Mile, Anxietyville) and Chinese-Canadian Samantha Wan (Sudden Master, Ruby Skye P.I.), have co-created, written and co-star in Second Jen, a coming-of-age comedy series based on their experiences as second generation Asian-Canadian millennials. Caught between cultures and generations, Mo (Joy) and Jen (Wan) are two best friends who move into their own apartment to prove to their immigrant families, and themselves, they can make it on their own. They experience all of life's firsts - first apartment, first job, and first love. Produced by Don Ferguson Productions (Air Farce), the six-part, 30-minute series was shot in Toronto and features a diverse cast, creative team and production crew.
Second Jen, airs Thursdays at 8:30pm beginning October 27th on City. Amanda Joy sat down to tell Suburban readers about the new series.
How did this project come about?
Samantha and I met on the set for Joseph O'Brien's Devil's Mile (which premiered in Montreal at Fangoria). We were fellow actors but also neighbours, and shared a lot of the same ideas about how the modern world was reflected onscreen. At the time, which is not that long ago, there might have been one person of colour on a show, and they were always the sidekick. We both lived in Toronto, and the world looked so very different from how TV portrayed it. We certainly didn't feel like sidekicks. Yet we knew no one would write stories starring people like us unless we did it ourselves. We had the support of many friends and were really privileged through the creation process. We made a short film, which we used to pitch the concept.
I think I speak for both Samantha (Wan, co-creator, writer and star of the show) and I when I say we persevered despite many setbacks, because we wanted to affect change. And we want kids growing up now to see people who look like them onscreen.
What makes this project unique?
It's a story about 20-something women-of-colour, created by 20-something women-of-colour - which is unique in and of itself. The best comedy comes from writing from your own experience, and there are so many things that young women and people of colour uniquely experience.
What can viewers expect when watching this series?
A lot of the buzz is around the diverse aspect of the show, which I think is great. And we definitely don't shy away from the heritage of our lead characters. But race is not what the show is about. Second Jen is a story about two best friends who move into an apartment together and experience the usual firsts, like first apartment, first job and first love.
These are experiences many can relate to.
Why do you think this show will resonate with viewers?
As screenwriters, we often feel like we have something to say. With Second Jen, it wasn't that we had something to say, but that something wasn't being said. And I think, for those who feel that void in the mainstream media landscape, the show will resonate with them in particular.
I hope the strength of the girls' bond, their love for their families and friends, and their ability to fail at almost everything, will be easy for audiences to relate to.
What's something that people would be surprised to know about you?
Legit, my favourite hobby is weight-lifting. Heavy.